Small Florida town’s police force quits en masse after locking horns with town commission, officials mum

The entire six-member police force quit in Melbourne Village, Florida this week after a prolonged clash with the local government, leaving many to wonder about the safety of the small town.

(Video Credit: WESH 2 News)

The en masse resignations follow police departments across the country having to deal with funding cuts and police officers leaving over politics.

The entire police force and other officials in Kenly, North Carolina recently resigned due to an alleged hostile work environment and being overworked after a new town manager was hired. That scenario seems to be playing out across the nation.

Melbourne Village’s police department and police chief dramatically handed in their resignation notices, choosing to leave their profession rather than continue battling with town officials. Most of the resignations took effect on Friday, forcing the town’s volunteer-only commission to decide whether the town will rebuild the department or contract the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement coverage.

The town is about one square mile in size with 685 residents.

The commission is reportedly looking at an agreement struck with the Sherriff’s Office to have them patrol the town and handle emergency calls, along with conducting other law enforcement duties.

Of interest in all this is the fact that town officials are refusing to say why the six officers resigned. Melbourne Village Mayor Tabitha Neimann is asserting that there is “no singular reason” for the resignations. She also contends that the town has had support from the Sheriff’s Office for “the last six years,” according to the Daily Mail.

She also proclaimed that “regardless of the ultimate direction chosen by the town commission and citizens of Melbourne Village, rest assured that the town’s residents and businesses will continue to receive comprehensive law enforcement.”

“Monday was a rough day to be given all those letters,” Niemann remarked at a meeting, according to WFTV9 News.

“There will be no lapse in coverage, as the Brevard County sheriff’s office will immediately provide comprehensive professional law enforcement and police protection services within the town’s municipal boundaries,” a statement read that was posted on the door of the police department according to WESH2 News.

The town’s now-former police chief, Gary Loos, has served in law enforcement for more than four decades. He was appointed to the position in 2019.

Resignation letters obtained by News 6 contend officers cited a “lack of support of our town government,” the organization taking “a political stance over the care of its officers,” and a “toxic” work environment cultivated by commissioners as reasons for leaving, according to Click Orlando.

A former officer named Angelo Caravano told FloridaToday that the department had been on the outs with the town government for some time. He joined the force in 2019 but quit in July. He claims the upset arose from disputes over pay and day-to-day operations.

“Some of the officers wanted pay raises, so they were fighting about that,” Caravano stated.

$405,000 was allotted in the town budget to the police department for the upcoming year.

“The reality of it is, is that this is a small town and they really can’t afford to pay anything comparable to what the bigger cities are offering,” Caravano explained.

The town is about an hour away from Orlando, located along the east coast of Florida.

The former detective noted that Melbourne Village is a pretty safe place to live and that there’s “not a lot going on” in the small community.

“You don’t see any burglaries,” he remarked. “Basically, you have a few death investigations, traffic accidents, and a few thefts at the Target store.”

The town bills itself as a safe, environmentally-conscious bedroom community, with lush greenery along long and winding roads dotted with modest, older homes.

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